“Mulan” is facing a backlash after Disney revealed that the new live-action remake was filmed partially in Xinjiang, which is a region of China that has been accused of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims, according to The New York Times.

What’s going on?

  • When Disney’s live-action “Mulan” debuted on Disney Plus on Sept. 4, some viewers noted that the credits sequence included thanks to eight government entities in Xinjiang, according to the Times.
  • Over 1 million Uighur Muslims are said to be detained in “reeducation” camps in Xinjiang, where they are “subjected to political indoctrination and forced labor,” according to CNBC.
  • China denies that people are mistreated in the camps and claims they are necessary to “counter radicalism,” according to USA Today.
  • One of the entities that Disney thanks in the film’s credits is a local branch of Xinjiang’s public security bureau, which was the subject of U.S. government sanctions in July because of its role in the camps, Axios reported.
  • Disney also thanked the police bureau in Turpan, which was one of many organizations in Xinjiang that the Trump administration placed on a blacklist (forbidding U.S. companies from selling or supplying products to them) last October, the Times reported.
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How was Disney involved?

  • Parts of “Mulan” were filmed in the region of Xinjiang, and the production team also spent several months there beforehand to prepare, according to Axios.
  • This was unique, as travel in Xinjiang is tightly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and many foreign journalists and human rights organizations have been denied access to that part of the country, according to Axios.
  • The cast and crew of “Mulan” were likely in Xinjiang for preproduction and filming while China was expanding its crackdown on Uighur Muslims in 2017, according to the Times.

What they’re saying

  • “This film was undertaken with the assistance of the Chinese police while at the same time these police were committing crimes against the Uighur people in Turpan,” Tahir Imin, a Washington-based Uighur activist, told the Times. “Every big company in America needs to think about whether their business is helping the Chinese government oppress the Uighur people.”
  • “Disney should disclose the details about the human rights due diligence it had conducted — if there was any — before making the decision to film in Xinjiang, what agreements it had made with Xinjiang authorities in order to do the filming, and what assistances it received from authorities,” Human Rights Watch China researcher Yaqiu Wang told The Guardian.
  • Disney has not yet commented on the report.

Some background

  • This is not the first time that “Mulan” has faced backlash.
  • Some have called for a boycott of the film after its star, Yifei Liu, showed support on social media in August for the Chinese police against protesters in Hong Kong, according to USA Today.
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  • In an interview published last week, Liu told USA Today she was “naive” to get involved in the political discussion. “It’s obviously very frustrating and obviously this is a very complicated question. I’m not a political expert, I’m an artist, so I just hoped this gets resolved soon.”

Other context

  • After being released on Disney Plus in much of the world, “Mulan” will be released in theaters in China this weekend, according to CNBC.
  • China has the second-highest grossing box office in the world, which means the country is an important market to Hollywood, according to CNBC.
  • Outside China, “Mulan” has already led to a significant jump in subscribers and in spending for Disney Plus after it was released on the streaming service last weekend, the Deseret News reported.
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